Since the beginning of last week, the wearing of face coverings has been compulsory on public transport in England.
Action on Hearing Loss Isle of Wight believes that the mass use of face coverings on local public transport could make life more difficult for many people who are deaf or have hearing loss.
Relying on facial expressions and lip-reading
Islanders with a hearing impairment, who rely on facial expressions and lip-reading to support their communication are finding things especially difficult during the current Coronavirus pandemic.
Social distancing itself has presented a communication barrier to people with hearing loss, as the added distance often reduces sound levels.
The compulsory wearing of facial coverings on public transport will make this even more challenging for them.
Fact sheet for transport providers
In order to raise awareness about this issue Action on Hearing Loss Isle of Wight has prepared a fact sheet (see below) to assist transport providers and service users. It contains some simple hints and tips aimed at creating more effective communication on public transport.
This leaflet, also available in printer-friendly and accessible format, has been circulated to public transport providers on the Island, including a number of local taxi firms.
O’Sullivan: Very simple, but can make a massive difference
Action on Hearing Loss sensory service manager, Mark O’Sullivan said,
“The information in the factsheet is very simple, but can make a massive difference to anyone with a hearing impairment using public transport.”
Action on Hearing Loss Isle of Wight has already been told by Mike Sizer-Green from Wessex Cancer Isle of Wight that the hints and tips will be used on its Daisy Buses. Action on Hearing Loss Isle of Wight is aware that face coverings with clear panels are being used in other areas of the UK and people with hearing loss have overwhelmingly reported that such face coverings are more helpful for them in communicating with people than the standard coverings currently in use.
Clear face coverings
Mark O’Sullivan said,
“Clear face coverings are receiving a lot of attention at the moment as a means of creating better communication in public environments.
“Although they are not cleared for use in clinical settings people are making their own as they are accepted as an adequate form of face covering on public transport.”
In the absence of widespread commercial availability of such clear face coverings, however, some members of the public has chosen to make their own face coverings with clear panels at home.
There are several links available online that demonstrate how to make these.
If anyone would like a copy of the factsheet or more information on this subject please contact Action on Hearing Loss Isle of Wight on 01983 529533 or email [email protected] About Action on Hearing Loss (Isle of Wight)